South Africa’s official opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) has called upon the Public Protector and ethics committee to expedite the probe into claims Communications Minister Dina Pule’s personal friend Phosane Mngqibisa received R6 million (US$675,000) for management fees for last years ICT Indaba.
The claims were made in a report by the Sunday Times, though sources from the Department of Communication (DoC) claim Mngqibisa was barely involved in the event’s management.
The Democratic Alliance called on the authorities to speed up the investigation into the allegations.
“It is becoming increasingly evident that Minister Pule not only put pressure on a number of telecoms companies to sponsor the Indaba, but used undue influence to ensure that her partner was appointed in a management role, which enabled him to withdraw money from the main organiser’s bank account,” said Marian Shinn, the DA’s Shadow Minister of Communications.
Shinn said this latest evidence came to light after an internal investigation for MTN conducted by law firm Werksmans together with an affidavit by Carol Bouwer, the conference organiser to the ethics committee of the South African Parliament.
“In September last year, I received confirmation from the Public Protector that her office would investigate the possible conflict of interest of Minister Pule’s involvement in the ICT Indaba. In light of this latest evidence, I will request the Public Protector to expedite the investigation and make her report public as soon as possible,” explained Shinn.
She added: “Parliament’s Ethics and Member’s Interest Committee has also been investigating Minister Pule’s conduct and I will be following up with the chairperson of the committee to determine the progress of the investigation and when it will be made public.
“It is becoming increasingly evident that the Minister may have abused her position of authority over companies in the ICT industry to enrich a close personal friend.”
Should the investigations into the matter confirm the claims, Pule may have to face legal consequences.
Shinn believes the speeding up of the probe is necessary to ensure that companies and the public that contribute to government initiatives like the ICT Indaba are reassured “this type of behaviour will not be tolerated”.